Your body temperature can change frequently in the outdoors. Luckily, the layering technique is an easy way to stay comfortable in virtually all conditions.
Why we love layering
With the changeable spring weather approaching, our thoughts at Fjällräven inevitably turn towards maintaining just the right body temperature in nature. The most straightforward way to do this is layering. That is, the method of strategically wearing, adding and/or removing garments to suit the weather conditions and your activity level.
In short, layering ensures you maintain a comfortable body temperature while you are in nature.
Though a valid system all year long, layering is particularly important in spring, which can be a rollercoaster ride of variable conditions. While feeling too warm or too cold is most often a temporary inconvenience, it becomes a serious problem if you are far from the creature comforts of the indoors.
So, how does layering solve it?
A few ways. First, layering keeps us warm by trapping air inside of our clothes, creating pockets of air. Our body then heats up the layer of air closest to our skin to keep us warm. It also keeps the elements, like wind, rain and even the sun, out, which helps regulate our temperature further. Finally, layering also ensures you do not get warm enough to sweat. If you do, layers can also perform the important function of releasing the moisture you generate through wicking and ventilation.
The four layers
Effective layering depends on four components: the base layer, mid layer, insulation layer and shell layer. Combining them correctly ensures your comfort during all your outdoor adventures.
Let’s review each, starting from the inside and working out:
Base layers are the skin-hugging garments worn closest to your body. Ideally, base layers are soft and transport moisture away from the skin to keep you dry. In fact, in warm weather, a base layer might be all you need. We especially like base layers made of wool at Fjällräven because it performs these functions very well.
Next up: mid layers. These are worn on top of your base layer to provide light insulation. Mid layers can be made from a range of materials, including wool and fleece. “But hold on a minute,” you might say to yourself, “Aren’t mid layers just shirts?” Yes! But at Fjällräven “shirts” are categorised as button-down tops with cuffs and collars. As such, long-sleeved tops, hoodies, sweaters, jackets and fleece tops are all considered effective mid layers too.
After that comes the insulation layer. Its core function is to trap air inside your clothes, creating the air pockets necessary for maintaining warmth. They are also thicker, which keeps air from escaping. On cool spring days and summer evenings , popping on a second mid-layer made of wool or fleece may be all you need to stay warm.
The final layer is the shell layer, and its purpose is keeping the elements out. In fact, you do not need to wear a shell layer until it gets windy, rainy, or even sunny. Shell layers should always have some method of ventilation available, which performs the dual function of allowing air in to prevent you from sweating, and to give moisture a way to escape if you are.
How to layer
Add a layer, adjust a layer, remove a layer. Repeat as needed.
Seriously. That is all there is to it.
This is especially true when you are active in the outdoors. Treks, day hikes, mountain climbs, city trips – whatever you are into – take your body from rest to action, and all have a direct impact on your body temperature. As activity levels increase, boosting your heart rate, warming your core and causing you to perspire, consider removing a mid layer. When you take a breather, put it back on – along with your insulation layer – to ensure the wind does not cause a chill.
What is important to keep in mind is that layering for the outdoors is not static and does not stop. In fact, it may be necessary to alter your layers a number of times. Whether you need to warm up, cool down, air out or dry off, it is an ever-evolving process to maintain the optimal body temperature.